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I’m fine. Almost.

standard November 27, 2012 3 responses

I was fine.

I am fine.

I mean, clearly I’m fine. The blood work the doctor ran last week shows just how fine I really am. Every possible result was smack dab in the middle of the normal ratings. And was I happy when I read that? No, it made me mad, really, truly, mad.

Mad? That’s crazy right? Who gets mad about being healthy?

Well, apparently I do. Wanna know why?

Because if I’m fine physically, then it means that the fog, the tired, the lack of motivation has to come from somewhere else, and the only other place is in my head.

It means I’m not as fine as I keep telling everyone.

Which is absurd, right? Because this is the good year. This is the recovery year. This is the year things fall into place and we start to embrace our new norm.

I remember thinking in the middle of the worst of 2011 that if everything we were going through didn’t drive me to drink nothing ever would.

I think I was wrong.

See, I’m really, really good in a crisis. I rise to the occasion like a champ. I can be strong, logical, organized. I can do it all.

I don’t think I’m so good in the aftermath. I’m not so good at relinquishing control and letting things go back to a state or normal, whatever that normal might resemble.

This is the time that is hardest for me to manage.

For a long time I hold tight to my fight reflexes, never really knowing when to let them relax. And then I think I relax them too much, and pretend, not that things are better though different, but better and exactly the same.

Which means that every time something rears up to remind me that the new norm doesn’t quite resemble the old norm, like a parallel world where things are almost identical, but just a little bit off — a second moon floating next to the single one from our world, a green sky instead of the cobalt blue we’re used to, people with four fingers instead of five — I feel like I’ve been thrown back into the original chaos.

I’ve often accused M of doing just this, of not facing the changes head on, of not coming to grip with any of the changes, but who am I to talk?

I took on the mantle of crisis manager and wore it well. Then I hung it up and went about my business. I never grieved for the life we left behind. I never dealt with the altered future we face.

I looked at the picture perfect blood work results the other night and I didn’t just see great numbers, I saw all those things I keep pretending I don’t need to face, all those things I haven’t had the guts to verbalize.

I saw the problem in my head that has been growing instead of shrinking, pushing the important stuff aside, demanding to be noticed.

I may not be fine.

But I will be.

The shame that we all share

standard October 11, 2012 1 response

I’ve taken to watching Ted Talks on my smartphone when I run on the treadmill. Watching the news was making me grumpy and just music wasn’t distracting me enough. There are thousands of Ted Talks and never enough time to watch them all, this seems like a great solution.

I run and learn new things. It’s a win/win in my book.

To my delight, on Tuesday I discovered that Brené Brown had given a second Ted Talk, one I hadn’t yet heard.

Of course, I should have considered that Brené has a tendency to speak truths that at times make me cry, but whatever, I can’t be the first person who has raced a machine while crying, right?

Her first talk, which I’ve watched numerous times, have blogged about, and have forced many friends to watch, covered the topic of vulnerability. This new talk dives into the subject of shame, the research subject that originally sent Brené onto her discoveries about vulnerability.

Shame.

Such a loaded word and concept. Definitely something none of us like to think about, let alone admit we ever feel. We like to pretend that shame is reserved for the huge stuff, that’s it’s linked to big bad things like rape, cheating, or those things that society agrees is wrong. But shame is more than just that, we all experience shame, it’s present in all of our every day lives, parading as something else. And ironically, none of us should feel shame about feeling shame.

According to Brené Brown, while guilt is the focus on behavior, shame is the focus on self. It’s that inner voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough. For women, apparently, shame centers on a “web of unattainable conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be.” (For men shame is different, check out the video below for more details on that.)

Ain’t that the truth…

We are women. We are expected to “do it all, do it perfectly, and never let them see you sweat.”

Did I just make you a tad anxious?

So sorry. It’s not me. It’s society.

That post I wrote last year? About not being Super Woman? I wrote that out of shame I felt over not being able to do it all. The outpouring of love and support shocked me. I thought I’d be flagellated for admitting my failures. Instead I was embraced, not even picked on by a troll.

Shame is also that voice, for me my Egmos, the voice that constantly asks me who I think I am, who talks me out of writing, who talks me into second guessing my choice of topic for my second book.

Why do we let shame cow us? Why do we let shame keep us from being who we want to be? Who we feel we could be?

Does shame only retract when we start talking about it? When we open up and realize we all feel the same way?

If that’s the case, then let’s talk. Let’s share. Let’s let it all out. What does your shame tell you?

I’m a mom who takes good care of her kids, but crappy care of her house. I’m a writer who loves to write, but who rarely lets herself write what she loves. I’m a friend who can’t seem to write to her far flung friends. I’m…

I’m just a woman trying to face her shame so it loses the control it has on her life.

9 Life Lessons from Doctor Who

standard September 7, 2012 11 responses

I do this thing when I’m in a state of flux, when my life is changing or when something big has happened in it, where I get somewhat, tiny bit, ok a lot, addicted to a tv show and spend inordinate amounts of time watching it.

It doesn’t impede my ability to function; I usually watch the show while doing other things, but for a while, the show is where I let myself get lost, forgetting all the other things that are causing me angst. Like, you know, facing the changes in my life.

The first show I lost myself in was Charmed. I know every episode backwards and forwards. I watched it a lot the year I stopped working for someone and started freelancing. The next show I watched religiously was Las Vegas. Equally engrossing and satisfying in completely different ways.

This year, well, this month, the show that has taken over my brain is Doctor Who. The “new” seasons to be precise. Two weeks ago Amazon released their Instant Video app for the iPad and, when I saw that Doctor Who was one of the shows my Prime membership allowed me to watch for free, I decided to see what all the Pinterest hubbub was about.


Didn’t take long for me to be hooked.

To be clear. I am a geek. A proud one at that. And I love the geekiness of the show. But mostly I love the characters. I can’t remember another TV show, ever, that made me feel so strongly, or cry so hard, for its people.

And now I have an Utterly Geeky Pinterest board. Though really it could just be called Utterly Whovy, because who am I kidding really?

I’m almost done watching the series and almost over my thing. I feel ready to face my world again and I have to say, it’s partly because of some things that Doctor Who has taught me.

1) The world is more than you know.
It’s so easy to get caught up in your day to day grind and to forget how many amazing things the world has to offer. Some of it is scary and ugly, but for the most part it’s beautiful and awe inspiring.

2) You never outgrow fairy tales
And they never stop helping you learn and grow, no matter what form they might take.

3) The moral high-ground is always worth taking
It’s tempting to come down to other people’s levels and play their sneaky, evil games. In the end though, it’s always more satisfying to win while staying true to your ethics.

Image by http://adweb.us/welcome/index/54083

Image by adweb.us 

4) Sometimes people leave… because that’s the way the story has to go.
People leave. It’s a fact of life. It doesn’t mean the story is over. It just means that the story is changing.

5) You always need a friend
It’s tempting to mourn the friends who are gone and close yourself off to everyone else. But you can’t, you have to keep opening yourself to future pain. The need for companionship is just that much stronger than the fear of losing a friend.

Image from pelfusion.com

Image from pelfusion.com

6) Be unapologetically proud of who you are and what you do
There’s only one you. Only you can do what you do. Be proud of yourself and give yourself praise when it’s deserved.

7) Be open to change. See the good in all things. It makes for a better life.
Greet challenges and changes as big fat adventures that need to be faced with gleeful smiles. The situation won’t change, but your attitude affects how you experience it all.

8) Some things don’t need to be said, but that’s no excuse not to say them
Your friends know you love them. Your kids know you’ll be there when you need them. Your husband knows he’s more than just that guy who shares your bed. These things don’t need to be said. And yet? Saying them is worth all the gold in the world and just because they don’t need to be said doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say them, just in case one day you realize it’s too late to say it.

9) The only constant is change
I fight it all the time. I crave normalcy. And yet, I should remember that the only constant is change. It’s always the same. Just when you get comfortable something is going to change. Change is good. It brings excitement and a renewed sense of purpose. Funny it took a TV show to remind me of that.

It’s been said that there’s a Doctor Who quote for everything. And I haven’t even finished watching the series. I’m sure I’ll be learning more lessons along the way. These, however, are the ones that are helping me out of my funk, and for that, I’m very grateful.

Allonzy! The world awaits!

******

What’s on your life list?

standard August 10, 2012 3 responses

“What makes you happy?”

That was the question Karen Walrond, leader of the EVO’12 conference session on creating your life path and blogger/photographer extraordinaire, opened with that afternoon.

Blank faces stared back at hers while the thought “tea, tea makes me happy.” swam through my head.

“Don’t let your inner gremlin tell you it’s dumb. Just make a list of anything you do that brings you joy.”

So we did.

Obviously my list was topped with “drinking tea,” but it ran on and on for four pages beyond that, with items ranging from “making my friends laugh,” to “getting into a well made bed.” As the list grew the well of gratitude in me deepened. So many of the things that fill me with joy abound in my life. Simply taking stock like that reminded me of just how good I have it and how powerful it can be to just take note once in a while.

The session progressed, leading us from the catalog of joy to the categorizing of these things and eventually to the creation of another list, our life list, or rather, as Karen suggested, our Life Menu.

“Think of it like you would a restaurant menu. Much might sound tasty, but you wouldn’t eat all of it.”

All of a sudden the heavy responsibility and seriousness of a creating a life list was gone.

This list wouldn’t be a list of things we had to do, just a list of things we wanted to do, something to give us inspiration as we went about the day to day living of our lives.

“Make sure you put things you love to do on that list,” Karen suggested. “Put easy things too, so it doesn’t seem insurmountable.”

My pen flew over the page, writing things that surprised me, things that delighted me. Some items gave me mild twinges of anxiety, others were filled with longing, pure and simple.

This is no bucket list, no 40 by 40 list, it’s just a suggestion list for those days when you feel like life will forever be predictable, when you start to wonder how and why you should keep pushing on.

It’s a list for the things you know will make your heart beat a bit faster, that you know will push you, challenge you. A list for the forging of memories.

I haven’t yet finished creating my list. Halfway through I got sidetracked by another conference attendee and got drawn into a great conversation. But it’s ok, the list isn’t something static that needs to be completed in one sitting, it’s something that will grow and evolve with me as I keep embracing living life to its fullest extent.